The House of Wax
A scary Vincent Price intonation is all that's needed as we descend the uneven staircase into the musty basement filled with the odour of fetid incense, torchlit and cobwebbed corners from which a murmuring of weird incantations echo eerily, to where we discover a wall with numerous shelves filled with row after row of record albums semi-alphabetically arranged (revealing a past scarred by a stint as a librarian). A brief perusal would lead one to believe the inhabitant/mad scientist to have sent his loyal Igor grave-robbing through library and garage sales in search of discarded relics of the nearly lost art of the ancients - the vinyl album - and one would be right. Here in the depths of my madness I am exposed as one of those tottering, nearly toothless cranks who still delve into the dark (vinyl) arts.
The dusty collection includes both the sublime as well as the lame, and exhibits a wide range of styles. Rare jazz sits next to dated pop, pristine classical rubs shoulders with punk. Prized possessions in plastic overwrap are mixed with 50 cent cutouts. As I page through the library, I find surprising oddities - Dan Fogelberg - how'd that get in here? I don't remember this John Denver. What the hell - Deborah Iyall? I find initials - not my own - gracing the covers. I plead innocence - so many roommates - so many different collections. No doubt they own hard earned albums with the initials "M.C.," or something like it, on them too. Or those flea market budget bin pick ups - don't you always wonder what Frank Smith or Betsy Wilson are doing these days. Perhaps sold their records and joined a cult, or even worse, are working in a bank and married with seven kids and a pillar of society - maybe some days thinking to themselves - "boy, I wish I hadn't sold that such and such album - I could sure stand to hear that groovy song that used to cure all my ills." Oh well - they can probably get it on cd on ebay.
A friend once kept my collection for me for a couple years, and when he returned it, I discovered a number of newly acquired horrible jazz fusion albums. I eagerly await the day we meet again so I can return the favor. Meanwhile a gap exists in the "L, M, & Ns" as another good friend disappeared with that portion of my records into the night. Just imagine my dismay as I try to get through life without my complete Led Zeppelin collection. Oh well I had a good friend who almost wouldn't speak to me because I absconded with his copy of David Bowie's Scary Monsters. I'm not sure he has forgiven me yet.
But now I sit and fondle and finger my collection reverently. The covers, which once displayed brilliant and colorful artwork, are now fraying at the edges, and the vinyl itself is often worn and crackly. That does not prevent me from playing them on my non-audiophile lo-fi system - the old crappy needle grinding away as it continues its assault on the grooves. Hardly, the snap, crackles and pops seem to add to the flavor of some recordings, and the others? Well I just tune it out. I don't know why - maybe it's the cost factor, the ability to study cover artwork and lyrics, maybe it's the sound - I don't know what drives me to collect and listen to what the rest of society has deemed archaic. I leave it to Steve Albini to explain the reasons why records sound better than cds, I'm not technical enough to explain the intricacies of the frequency range of the human ear, I just know I like to wallow in my solitude with my wax-pressed beauties. And of course I also enjoy murdering young virgins, whose bodies I then cover in paraffin and display as works of art. Just don't tell anybody about my secret shameful passion, okay?
Past, present & future
misguided ramblings of the MusiCurmudgeon
Stroll through the vaults of a diseased mind!
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